There’s something about the rounded exterior of the Range Rover Evoque that makes me want to give it a hug, but only in the pictures. I would never hug a live car.
People in the big-car market call this a diddy version of a real Range Rover; there’s even one with three doors, for those who want all the road hogging with none of the convenience. However, to any regular eye, it’s still a large high rider, a car in which you meet other cars that are also impractically large on urban streets: one of you has to reverse, and it falls to the person who is the humblest, which is never the person who is best at reversing. But anyway: I maintain, nonetheless, that it has a linear softness I like, and a pleasing, clink-clunk quality to the interior.
It’s not one of those cars in which the new owner would force his friend to have a spin around the corner, marvelling at its acceleration, and the friend would do it to be kind, even though he was sure he didn’t have the right kind of insurance. It has a four-cylinder engine and the accent is on fuel and carbon economy (relative to the rest of the Land Rover family, of course, not to cars at large). It never pins your cheeks to the headrest in acceleration or thrills you with the dynamism of its gait. It’s a nine-speed automatic turbo-diesel, with gear shifts appropriate to the price bracket: smooth, willing, effortless.
I see it as a compromise car, the sort that happens in a partnership where one person is only pretending to compromise. Both want a status vehicle (vehicle after the word “status”, incidentally, is pronounced ver-hickal) and both are prepared to get within whispering distance of 50 grand. One person wants a performance car; the other doesn’t care about performance, on account of having never accelerated into a corner in their life. One person wants grip and grit; the other wants so much leather on the inside that, were they also to wear leather, they would sweat more than the time they went to hot yoga after a vindaloo. One person probably won’t ever go off-road, but likes to know they could if they wanted. The other does not want mud on the ver-hickal.
“A Range Rover,” says that one. Fine, says the first person, little realising that they have just bought an SUV whose best feature is the fact that sitting in it is like going to a cocktail bar at a fancy ski resort. They’re both happy, that’s what counts.
Range Rover Evoque: in numbers
Acceleration 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds
Top speed 121mph
CO2 emissions 149g/km
Combined fuel consumption 49.6mpg
Cool rating 8/10
Eco rating 6/10
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